Julep October 2014 Maven Box: The Black Magic Collection, Polish Lover Upgrade (with promo codes)

I’m a total sucker for Halloween stuff, it’s no lie. As long as something evokes the magic and fun of the holiday for me, I think I’m a pretty easy sell. Regardless, Julep’s October collection last year was way above-and-beyond fantastic, though, so I had high expectations for this year’s, too. I wasn’t as floored by this month’s colors, but I still saw quite a few I really liked, and it was a better value to just nab the entire Polish Lover Upgrade (all polishes in the collection), rather than picking and choosing, so I just went with that.

I was so excited when my box arrived yesterday. Here’s what was inside, packaged with maroon paper crinkles and glitter-studded black tissue paper:

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…plus a freebie that I got for ordering three add-ons this month:

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Catrina (“[m]arigold yellow crème”) and Karmen (“[g]olden crimson microglitter”) are both from last September’s Cityscape collection and colors that I wished I’d picked up, so I was happy with these. :] I also appreciated that they were separately packaged in their own bag, so I could clearly tell what items were in the beauty freebie. Thanks, Julep!

I love the quote this month, probably because I’m a Poe fan: “There is no beauty without some strangeness.” :] The freebie is a little packet of candy corn, just as in past Octobers.

Here are some closer shots of the colors in my box:

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  • Logan (Classic with a Twist), “[s]ultry aubergine shimmer” – the shimmer is superfine and almost looks like a pearl finish
  • DeAnn (Classic with a Twist), “[r]ipe loganberry crème” – this color looks like a deeper version of last August’s Nellie (“[p]ink fuchsia crème”)
  • Shailene (It Girl), “[b]ewitched purple with gold flecks (iridescence)” – this polish looks like a purple (and less golden) version of Candace (“[g]olden chocolate microglitter”) from last September’s Cityscape collection

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  • Dana (It Girl), “[w]hite with electric blue sheen (black light reactive)” – the electric blue sheen barely shows up when swatched, but the creamy white has just a touch of beige that should be flattering to wear
  • Ledi (It Girl), “[b]lack pearl shimmer” – the shimmer is also black and very fine, giving it a velvety texture in the bottle that doesn’t seem to show up much when swatched
  • Briana (Boho Glam), “[s]ailor blue crème” – brighter and bluer than last month’s dustier Eliana, not navy in person as it looks in the photo, but a bit lighter and less saturated

FYI, I wouldn’t exactly call it bogus marketing to call attention to Dana being blacklight reactive, but it seems just a tad gimmicky, since many (not all) white compounds are blacklight reactive, and I’d be willing to bet lots of other white and fluorescent nail polishes are blacklight reactive.

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  • Margarita (Bombshell), “[p]alace purple crème” – a nice royal/grape-y purple
  • Nancy (Bombshell), “[s]ilvery sage metallic” – though the sage part is a bit of a stretch, to be fully honest
  • Marla (Boho Glam), “[b]urgundy velvet with silver shimmer” – very juicy-looking wine shimmer – yum!

My sister and I both got Nancy, and we just don’t really see too much sage in Nancy. Unlike in the official marketing photos, Nancy doesn’t seem to have a discernible blue-green sheen, which we were disappointed about. I’d probably consider it a very subtly greenish-toned gunmetal metallic, myself. My sister said she may have picked a different box (she got the Bombshell box with Margarita, Nancy, and the Night Shift overnight mask) if she’d known Nancy was basically just another slightly differently tinted gunmetal/silver. I’d have to agree with her that the lack of sage-y flash really changes things. :( It’s a nice enough color, but not as interesting without the advertised sheen.

For comparison with Nancy, here’s a few similar Julep colors:

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These are the add-ons I threw in:

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  • Black cat nail decals – my family has always owned black cats, and I’m really partial to them :]
  • Tia (Boho Glam), “[c]opper and gold glittered black jelly” – the featured add-on this month
  • Queen Anne (It Girl) “[l]ilac confetti microglitter” – Julep’s third anniversary commemorative polish from this August

And, finally, the promo codes:

  • 30% off an order – DROP30
  • 30% off Night Shift Sleeping Mask – SLEEP30

Despite the couple marketing choices that made me raise an eyebrow a little, it’s a varied-enough collection, and I’m still excited about trying these colors out. What did you think of this month’s collection?

Sorry for the lack of swatches lately, by the way. I’ve been way busier with work lately and feeling exhausted, so it’s been tough to feel up to painting my nails. I hope I can find the energy to swatch some of these new colors for you all sometime, though! Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting. :]

The Lady Varnishes The Werewolf Code

This week, I’ve been wearing The Werewolf Code from  The Lady Varnishes, from her Harry Potter-themed Where Everything is MagiCOOL collection. It’s a medium-dark gray-brown jelly liberally dosed with iridescent shimmer and glitter of varying sizes that shifts from green to blue. The color/effect combination is so interesting and really reminds me of labradorite, so I had to pick it up when I saw it in her Etsy store.

Here’s three coats in natural light, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat:

The sparkle is a little more focused in indoor fluorescent lighting (sorry for the dry skin, hehe):

Either way, it’s a lovely polish. Nothing to complain about with the formula, but it’s worth noting that the  glitters are so dense that you might want to take some extra care to watch out for glitter danglers at the nail tips. I had a couple that ended up causing premature chips later because I was a little careless in my usual excitement and impatience. I don’t blame that on the polish, though, since it’s easily fixed before drying. TWC goes on smoothly and dries very fast, though like with most jellies, I found it needed three coats for opacity.

I got my bottle with a fresh-cut rose scent, and phew, it’s powerful stuff! My hands still smell like roses almost a week later.

I found it interesting that TWC could maybe pass for an edgier work-appropriate color, since the dark taupe base is such a typical fall neutral, and the shimmer and glitter aren’t overpowering in person. I’m lucky that I can wear whatever color I want at work, but if your work’s borderline conservative, maybe this could still pass muster while not being too boring. ;]

Julep Zora

I’m not usually a “work-appropriate” colors kind of girl – there’s just usually something flashier that catches my eye more – but somehow the mood struck me this week. For whatever reason, I was excited about Julep Fifi (“[t]ea time pink crème”) when it was announced as one of this month’s limited-edition colors. Something about that pale, cool, milk-glass pink just struck me, even though I’d guess there are many pinks like it out there. It didn’t hurt that they marketed it with the word tea. I’d been planning on wearing Fifi this week when it arrived, but because Julep made a shipping error and didn’t send me my Fifi (more on that at the end of the post), I had to find a different color to wear, and I still felt like pale pink.

Luckily, I had Julep Zora sitting around untried. It’s no Fifi (though the reviews on Fifi make me wonder if that might actually be a good thing), but it was as close to my color craving as anything in my current stash could get.

Here’s two coats on the ring and pinky fingers and three coats on the index and middle fingers, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, in outdoor natural light:

Zora is a pale, slightly warm-leaning, ballet-slipper pink with a fine, silvery mica shimmer. The shimmer is pretty subtle, at least on me. I find that you can’t really see it much, like in the sunlit photo above, unless you look fairly closely and in stronger light. Usually, Zora looks to me like a creme, with maybe a hint of frost here and there.

I love the color, but I didn’t so much love the formula. It’s a little thick and doesn’t level well, so getting the polish to look even is a bit of a pain. Some thinner may fix that, but I haven’t tried it, myself. Because of uneven application and some bald spots, I tried three coats on the index and middle fingers, but you probably only need two, if you’re more careful than I was. The brush is flattened, slightly wide, and square-tipped, and it’s easy enough to use, though slightly clumsier for smaller nails. The dry time was a bit above average for me (hence the stupid ding on the middle finger). Overall, the formula could be better, but it’s not unworkable.

Here’s a shot in indoor fluorescent lighting to better show the shimmer texture, which does tend to show brushstrokes. Since it’s so subtle most of the time, though, it’s not really very bothersome.

Back to Fifi: I mentioned in my September 2014 Julep Maven box post that Julep had left Fifi out of my box, presumably by accident, since they didn’t say anything about it. When I contacted customer support, though, the reply I got back minimized their shipping error. It was a passive “we’re sorry to hear [your shipment] was incomplete,” rather than something acknowledging their mistake and communicating that they cared about me as a customer, like, say, “we’re sorry we didn’t ship you everything you ordered, and we’d really like to make it right.” To add insult to injury, I was then told they had run out of Fifi and would not be able to ship me the item they forgot to send me. They could not even guarantee that Fifi would ever become available again. I was offered either a different color or a refund, and that was it.

To be completely honest, I feel a bit slighted. It’s not that I want to demand anything more from Julep; I mean, I’m bursting at the seams with nail polish at all times. I’d just like to be treated like a valued customer, like I’m sure most people would, and I just don’t think this is the right way to respond to a customer when you’ve made an error that damaged that customer’s faith in you. If I were Julep, I’d have offered the alternate color or refund, as well as a nominal something or other just to apologize for 1) the shipping error, and 2) the inability to fulfill the customer’s shipment as ordered and paid for. Isn’t a customer’s goodwill worth that much, at least?

Okay, I’m done venting now.

To end on a lighter note, this is what Zora will always mean to me:

From Zeldapedia. Image source linked.

Zoya Remy & The Lady Varnishes A Center for Ants!?

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a big fan of Zoya’s Ignite collection for this fall. My favorites are Yuna, Remy, and India, in no particular order, though the only one I have so far is Remy.

Here’s Zoya Remy (two coats on the index and middle, one coat on the pinky for reference) and The Lady Varnishes A Center for Ants!? from this past spring’s Really Ridiculously Good Looking collection (three coats), topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, in natural outdoor light:

Remy is a heavily pigmented, deep peacock-blue jelly with dense glass-fleck shimmer that shifts from green to blue. As you can see, there’s not too much difference between applying one coat versus two, and it can maybe be fully opaque in one coat, if you’re careful. I still had some thinner patches at one coat, though, so I put on a second for good measure. I think the extra coat also adds more depth to  this polish, which is even more amazing in person.

I had no problems with the formula, which applied smoothly. The brush is pretty standard, and the dry time seemed average. The Miracle Gel Top Coat did cause some color transfer, even when the polish felt dry to the touch, though.

A Center for Ants!? is a milky, very pale yellow jelly/crelly base with gold shimmer and gold and silver hexes in various sizes – essentially a jelly sandwich in one bottle. It’s beautiful and such a classy color – one of those rare polishes that can be fun and interesting while also looking reasonably professional. I love the subtle effect of the glitters, especially as some of the silver hexes look almost matte white under a layer of the creamy base. The formula is a little thick, and the brush is on the wider and softer side, but I actually didn’t find it difficult to work with. The thicker consistency is great for glitter suspension, and no special glitter placement was necessary. Also, the dry time was pretty fast, which made up for needing three layers for opacity.

No color transfer from the Miracle Gel Top Coat with this one. Woot!

Also? I picked a jasmine scent for this polish, and it smelled wonderful for two days. On the third day, the smell’s fainter, but it’s still there if I sniff up close. :] (Yeah, I really don’t care if someone catches me sniffing my nails. I’m okay with appearing eccentric.)

I couldn’t capture Remy’s full jewel-toned shimmer depth in my photos; it’s much more vibrant in real life, especially in more intense lighting. A Center for Ants!? also has much more visible sparkly gold shimmer.

As per usual, the Miracle Gel Top Coat is holding up amazingly. It’s been three days with virtually no visible wear on either polish. It doesn’t have the glassy, candy-shell thickness of Seche Vite, and it’s got that pesky habit of picking up color when swiped over nail polishes dry to the touch, but it’s otherwise amazing and still my current favorite. Last I checked, it was $9.99 at CVS and can be cheaper if on sale and/or with a coupon. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new durable fast-dry top coat!

Julep September 2014 Maven Box: The Art Walk Collection, Girl on the Go (with promo codes)

I haven’t gotten a Julep Maven box since June, but I decided to get this month’s box because I had enough Jules to get my box for free this time, and I’m in the market for a good dry shampoo. :] It came in today, wrapped in navy-blue paper crinkles and pearlescent charcoal tissue paper.

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I went with this month’s Girl on the Go box, which included:

  • Dry Clean Invisible Dry Shampoo,
  • Elixir Organic Moroccan Argan Oil,
  • Freedom Polymer Top Coat, and
  • a bonus mystery polish color

The paper inserts included a quote from modern-art master Henri Matisse: “Creativity takes courage.” Good one. They also included two perk promo codes:

  • PLUSHPOUT for 30% off the new Plush Pout Lip Crayons and
  • JULEPPERK for 30% off a Julep order, two uses per customer.

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I also picked up three add-ons, for which Julep promised a surprise beauty freebie:

  • Kirby, a “[s]ilver jagged glitter top coat,”
  • Chloe, a “[w]arm cocoa frost,” and
  • Fifi, a “[t]ea time pink creme.”

To my sadness, though, Fifi wasn’t in my box. I sent off a quick e-mail to customer support and hope they get back to me on that. :(

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I did get some freebie polishes, though. I don’t know which polishes are the “bonus mystery polish color” from the Girl on the Go box, the freebie from ordering three add-ons, and whether one of them is the monthly freebie that usually comes with Julep Maven boxes, but here they are:

  • Candace, a “[g]olden chocolate microglitter,”
  • Eliana, a “[s]oft denim crème,”
  • Daria, a “[d]ark slate grey crème,” and
  • Kendra, an “[a]rmy green frost.”

Daria and Kendra are duplicates for me, which is fine because they’d make great gifts or backups. :]

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You know, I’ve stuck with Julep a long time and am trying not to lose faith in the company, as I know they’re going through some growing pains right now. CEO Jane Park sent out an apology letter on August 19th apologizing for mistakes in orders and such, due to transitioning to a new fulfillment center to ship merchandise:

Hi all,

Things have been a little crazy here at Julep lately. This last quarter has been really exciting for us with the launch of the Plié and an unexpected growth spurt, but I can’t even put in words how much we care about the customer support and shipping challenges we’ve had as a result. It absolutely breaks my heart to think that those of you who’ve been with us from the beginning and know how hard we’ve worked to delight our Mavens could read these recent challenges as us caring less as we grow. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Believe me, I share your passion to have things be different NOW. Frustratingly, sometimes the changes we make for the better in the long term take one or two cycles to get right. So, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what we’re doing behind the scenes to make a difference as quickly as we possibly can…

First, we’ve taken on additional office space and more than doubled our Customer Service team. In addition, although moving our fulfillment to Ohio will ultimately result in faster delivery across the entire country, setting up new processes with new people is never smooth from the get go. I’m incredibly pained by the orders that were shipped late and not right – but I can promise you that we’ve invested many sleepless nights in making it MUCH better next time.

I truly apologize to those of you who were impacted by the outrageously unacceptable hold times as well as delays and errors in shipping. I can promise you that we’re listening, that I am finding the right leaders (like our new Chief Delivery Officer, Dwight Gaston) to own ongoing planning for the future, and that we’re doing everything possible to be able to delight you better every day.

Jane Park
Julep CEO & Founder

As a customer, I certainly appreciate the insight and effort to communicate, but I’m also still disappointed by the much slower shipping, not very responsive customer service, mistakes in orders, and overall recent changes, like increased add-on prices and what I subjectively feel are less exciting monthly collections and mystery boxes. I know it takes time to train new employees and business partners, but given that the letter went out August 19 and the problems have been going on longer than that, I’m taken aback that the problems are still ongoing three weeks later. I think I’m a pretty understanding customer, especially since I’ve had experience running a small business and know how hard it can be, but even I’m starting to feel a little discouraged. :(

I guess I’ll wait and see what customer service says and what October’s selection is like. I loved last October’s collection, and maybe this October’s will convince me to order again.

The Lady Varnishes Now I’m the Bad Guy

I’m still pretty new to collecting indie nail polishes, but, man, are there some amazing indie creations out there.

The Lady Varnishes is an indie brand that I stumbled on while browsing through Etsy, and besides the dazzling array of glittery colors, I was sold by the cute beaded star charms on each bottle and that these lacquers are scented!

Now I’m the Bad Guy was the August’s “Villain of the Month” polish, inspired by Mother Gothel from Disney’s Tangled. Here’s two coats, with one coat Nail-Aid Fast Dry Top Coat, which I’m trying out this week. Outdoor natural light:

It’s possible my bottle of NItBG might be a bit different from the one shown in the shop listing photo, since it’s hand-mixed, but instead of coming out ruby red, mine looks more like a bright rose/fuchsia! I’d been hoping for that deeper ruby red I saw in the listing photo, but this is rather pretty, too. It’s a candy-bright jelly filled with multi-sized gold and iridescent glitters that really glow from inside the translucent base. Lovely.

I don’t have any complaints about the formula, which applied smoothly and didn’t require any fishing or special glitter placement. It’s reasonably opaque in two coats, and I tried three on some nails on my other hand (not shown), which deepened the color very slightly and added another layer of glitter complexity but otherwise didn’t change the look of the polish too much. The brush has a somewhat shorter stem and is a little softer than average, but it’s otherwise pretty standard and easy to use.

NItBG seemed to take slightly longer than average to dry for me. It dries to a nice semi-matte and has that squishy jelly look on its own, but clear top coat really brings out the glitters’ sparkle. I picked the sweet cherry cinnamon scent, and on the second day, I can still smell it pretty strongly. It smells like candy. Yum!

I ordered three other polishes (and got the Stabbington Brothers freebie mini) in the same order, so I’ll be posting swatches of those soon!

UPDATE 9/8/14: Whoops, this one was the cinnamon-scented one, not sweet cherry!

OPI Muir Muir on the Wall, SpaRitual Imagination, and Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo

This week’s nails were a bit of an experiment because I really wanted to wear Arlo, but I didn’t feel like having so much bling and texture on every finger at the time. The combo turned out looking a bit random, but I think I’m okay with that. :]

In outdoor indirect light, this is:

Ring finger – Zoya Magical PixieDust Arlo ($10 regular*), two coats, no top coat

Other fingers – OPI Muir Muir on the Wall ($9.50 regular*), two coats, with a gradient at the tip in SpaRitual Imagination ($12 regular*), approximately two coats, topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

* I pretty much never buy any nail polish at full price and highly recommend bargain hunting and using coupons to get the biggest bang for your buck! Prices based off what I saw at Ulta.

Muir Muir on the Wall (which I’ll call MMOTW for short), from OPI’s San Francisco collection last fall/winter, is a watery, semi-sheer black base densely loaded with burgundy shimmer that shifts from plum to gold in the bottle. The blackened base with shimmer reminds me of the Julep “molten” polishes, like Angela and Blakely, or Wet n Wild MegaLast Under Your Spell. The gold side of the color shift doesn’t show up too much on the nail for me, but sometimes it does look more purple, like in the photo above. At least on me, this polish typically looks like a dark burgundy/plum.

From some angles, MMOTW is pretty dark because of that black base:

MMOTW’s formula is good, and it’s mostly opaque in one coat. The second coat evened out the mild patchiness very nicely. It applied smoothly and had an average dry time. The wide, thick, flattened, and square-tipped OPI brush isn’t my favorite, though. It’s a bit wide for my nails, so I have to turn it a bit sideways to keep from painting onto the skin. Otherwise, I’ve got no complaints.

I’ve posted about Imagination before – it’s a sheer mauve/puce base with dichroic shimmer that shifts from magenta to blue/teal. I probably should have known it’d primarily show up teal or blue over MMOTW, but I hoped that the magenta shift might help echo Arlo’s pinkish purple. It kind of does, sometimes:

The teal/blue shimmer wasn’t what I was going for when I initially painted on the gradient, but it doesn’t look so bad. I love the magical color shift on Imagination, either way. The mauve/puce base tone doesn’t really show because it’s so sheer. No problems with application on this one, either. SpaRitual’s rubberized cap is really easy to hold, and the brush is pretty standard, other than the slightly shorter stem. Imagination also dries pretty fast.

Finally, Arlo, from Zoya’s Magical PixieDust collection this summer, is a polish that I really wanted from the first moment I laid eyes on it. It’s got a cheerful pink-purple jelly base just packed with multi-sized holographic hex glitters and dries to a semi-matte, sugary, translucent texture. The texture’s a bit chunkier than the original PixieDust formula, but it’s much smoother than I expected from its hefty payload of glitters. It’s not nearly as rough or jagged as Essie Belugaria. Still, you’d probably have to be into textured polishes to like this one. I love it. It makes me think of a weird cross of kompeito and druzy. :]

Application is great. Arlo’s got good coverage in two coats (though it’ll still be semi-sheer because it’s a jelly), and no glitter placement or pushing around is needed to get a pretty even distribution of glitter and texture. It also dries super fast. The brush is the standard small, round, flat-tipped brush like other Zoya polishes I’ve tried, but the cap on this collection has a grippier, rubberized, velvety finish. It’s a nice touch, especially since the Magical PixieDust polishes cost $1 more than the typical Zoya.

Anyway, here’s a shot in direct sunlight, outdoors – MMOTW definitely looks less purple and more burgundy here:

I think the combination is growing on me.

Next week or the week after, I may have some indie colors to post up. :] Right now, my indie polish collection is pretty small, but I recently ordered a few that I’m really excited about. Something to look forward to!